In a town hellbent on downtown redevelopment an old cabin for sale would seem to have a short future.
But real estate agent Ray Elser, of Contour Investment Properties, hopes to close soon on a pending contract that will transfer one of Jackson’s oldest buildings to new owners — people who want to keep the old homestead pretty much the way it is.
“We’ve been very fortunate, I think, in that the buyer is very much interested in preserving it,” Elser said Monday. “A new owner could have come in and taken the cabin out and done a Gill Addition job on it.”
Elser wouldn’t name his potential buyers, but he said they live in Jackson and have preserved other old buildings.
The house at 265 E. Hansen Ave. is a 1,439-square-foot cabin built in 1924. Sitting on two lots totaling 0.34 acres, the place is notable for towering trees and big front and back yards, even with a 484-square-foot detached garage and a 540-square-foot rental cabin, also built in 1924.
The house was bought in 1976 by Bob and Ann Seibert, who were retiring from California. Bob Seibert was a friend of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort developer Paul McCollister and an early real estate investor at Teton Village. His widow lived in the house until she moved to assisted living earlier this year near one of her three sons.
The sons, Carl, Chris and Curt, were young adults when their parents moved to Jackson. They “do have an attachment to the house, but we all get on in life,” Elser said. The home was “an excess asset,” but letting it go “was not an easy decision for them.”
The property has been on the market for only a couple of weeks and wasn’t heavily advertised. The asking price was $1.525 million.
Given the redevelopment rage in Jackson, the property was a likely target for a scraping or a house-moving, Elser said, to make way for something bigger. That’s been the trend in recent years downtown and in the Gill Addition, where small single-family houses from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are being replaced by lot-filling square condos that max out allowable building space.
“I really thought something like that was definitely a possibility,” Elser said, “with all the people looking to move into town.
“You look at the Gill Addition and say, ‘Why wouldn’t that happen here?’”
Under the Auto-Urban zoning now in effect for the neighborhood, a redeveloper could have built three residential units on each of the two lots. The likely configuration under the rules, Elser said, would be that each lot would have a main house with one attached unit and one detached, typically over a garage.
Based on the AU floor-area ratio allowance of 0.35, Elser estimated that would have meant about 2,600 square feet of building on each lot.
“It’d be pretty intense” on the property, he said. “It would change how the neighborhood looks if somebody took out that cabin and rebuilt.”
The Seibert cabin is small by modern standards, but it’s in good shape inside and out. It has two bedrooms, two baths, a living room and kitchen, a closed-in back porch and a semi-finished basement. The garage has an attached shop. The large backyard features 40- or 50-year-old pines planted in a circle around a fire pit. There are single-family homes on both sides and across the street.
Despite its age, turning the house to timber would be fairly simple. Jackson has no real historic preservation rules, only a system that might delay a tear-down.
“It’s on the Teton County historical register,” Elser said, “but all that really does is, if someone goes to the town and applies for a permit to demo it, the Teton County Historical Preservation Board can request a 90-day stay to try to find a new home for the cabin. Outside of that, there really isn’t anything to preserve the place.
“The buyers came in early and said, ‘We really love this,’” Elser said. “We’re really fortunate in having someone who wants to have it.”